Airport Spotlight on Lou Wipotnik

Airport Spotlight Lou Wipotnik

Lou Wipotnik’s love for flying began at a very early age. His uncle proudly served in the Navy during World War II, and after returning home he took his young nephew for an adventurous plane ride. “That got me hooked” is how Lou described his first experience with aviation. While still a young age and not yet able to pilot his own plane, Lou spent his time building model planes and setting goals for his future. Lou began flight lessons at Sallys Flying School at PWK in May 1957 and did his first solo flight that August. Lou became a flight instructor to share the joy of flying with others in 1968.

Lou has since been safely flying all around the country, serving as a flight instructor and flight enthusiast. His enjoyment of the industry included his professional career, working more than 30 years at Japan Airlines as a member of their sales team.

During his last 64 years of flying and serving as a flight instructor, Lou has received numerous certificates and commendations. Most recently he received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for flying more than 50 years without an accident or violation and has also received the FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor recognition, awarded to those for going above and beyond the normal requirements for being a flight instructor.

Lou has retired from flying but still shares his enthusiasm and experience by serving as a classroom flight instructor at Leading Edge Flying Club at CEA, and at other facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin. Lou is very proud to continue teaching the next wave of hobbyists and professional pilots how to fly safely.

“I’ve instructed a lot of people, including some who have become airline pilots and a gentleman who retired from UPS as a captain of a 747,” Lou shared. “It’s really fun to watch those people go up and get their various certifications and move on with major airlines.”

With a busy flight training schedule and his active travel, Lou still finds time to give back to the community. He is a regular with the Young Eagles program, a monthly event hosted at CEA which lets children experience the joy of flight. Lou would routinely participate at the events and received recognition in 2023 for flying more than 300 children through the program.

Most recently he had the honor to be part of an Honor Flight. In October 2023, more than 300 veterans flew from Milwaukee to DC, to share in a day of honor at the nation’s memorials and spend the day among comrades.

“The way they treated the veterans was remarkable. It was a great experience, and I would advise any veteran to participate and encourage anyone to volunteer with this amazing organization.” Lou will continue to serve as a flight instructor at CEA and can be found with his wife volunteering at the next Young Eagles event. Even though he’s a retired pilot now, he continues to be part of the aviation community through ongoing volunteer work and flight instruction.